Scientists have developed a genetic test to predict whether someone will develop a common type of blood cancer.
The breakthrough could lead to potential patients being warned about the risk of progressive Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) and boost their chances of survival.
CLL affects the white blood cells and tends to develop slowly over many years, mostly affecting those aged over 60. By studying blood samples of people with CLL, researchers found they often had the same "genetic tendency" to develop progressive forms of the illness.
The team, from eight UK universities and the Institute for Cancer Research, said their work would help doctors "move towards a more personalised diagnosis of leukaemia".
Haematology consultant Dr David Allsup, who is also a senior lecturer at Hull York Medical School, said: "Not only does the research inform us if patients have the genetic tendency to develop progressive CLL, but it also enables us to determine whether or not a patient's CLL will require treatment in the future or not."
"That way, we are able to keep a close eye on the patients with a high risk, and have treatment options available as soon as they are required."
Professor James Allan, from Newcastle University's Centre for Cancer, said: "Emerging evidence suggests that early treatment for patients at high risk of developing progressive CLL could significantly delay the onset of symptomatic leukaemia and improve survival."
Source: The Independent, February 9 F2021